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Is your Ice Machine a Breeding Ground for Germs: The Importance of Ice Machine Cleaning and Maintenance

ice machines

What is growing inside your Ice Machine?

Contaminated ice is a health issue and is a frequent finding on health department food sanitation reports, yet commercial ice machines remain the least cared for food machines in a range of industries.

Can you remember the last time you cleaned your ice machine? Take off the cover and see for yourself what is growing inside, you are likely to find some fairly nasty bacteria infecting the ice you serve. Microbial growth spoils the tubing. Slime clogs the pump, screen and float switch. Scale hardens on the evaporator and water valves, deforming the ice cubes and causes your machine to work harder. Mould if no removed can destroy the housing, motor and electronics.

Ice Machines are Food Equipment

Many people forget that Ice machines are food equipment, they produce food and therefore require the same concerns for sanitation as any other food service equipment. Ice has many functions, it is a food or food ingredient it is commonly used in drinks both whole and crushed, it is used for cold food display, for chilling packaged food and drinks and is also used to rapidly chill cooked foods.

Therefore it is important that ice machines are cleaned regularly and to manufacturer standards in order to reduce contamination, contaminated ice has been associated with numerous foodborne disease outbreaks.

It is easy to overlook the risks associated with a lack of ice machine maintenance, but according to FDA regulations, ice needs to be stored and handled like food, and that means that ice machines need regular cleaning, at least 2 to 4 times a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Depending on your usage, the location of the machine and the water conditions, you may need to clean it more often.

For example, a very heavily used unit located near a cooking line inside a kitchen restaurant may need cleaning as often as every month.

Commercial ice machines that are lacking a proper water filtration system are particularly vulnerable to increased microbial growth, scale and slim-forming bacteria. Ice Machines

Additional things to remember when handling your ice

Once your ice machines is clean and sanitised on a regular basis, there are guidelines that you should follow to ensure the prevention of contamination in between cleanings;

  • Do not remove ice from the storage bin with your bare hands
  • Do not return unused ice to the storage bin
  • Keep the door or lid of the storage bin closed when ice is not being collected
  • Ensure that you keep the ice scoop clean at all times
  • Do not store your ice scoop in the ice bin
  • Make sure that you use ice dedicated buckets for transport
  • Do not store food, containers or other objects within the ice bin
  • Change your water filters on a regular basis
  • Consider periodically testing your ice and ice machine surfaces for the presence of contaminants

Don’t Let Just Anyone Clean your Ice Machine

It is important that you leave the cleaning of your ice machine to the experts. First of all you need to know what products to use for the type of ice machine you have. You also need to know how to disassemble the machine, meticulously clean all of the parts including the water line, and then put it all back together again.

Professional refrigeration service experts not only know all the ins and outs of your machine and the correct techniques to ensure that you ice is clean, but they also know how to inspect your machines for any problems and how to care for your machine in order to maximise its life span.

Including your ice machine in part of a refrigeration preventative maintenance plan will reduce costs while ensuring you are following laws and regulations.

For more information about our refrigeration maintenance plans give a member of our sales team a call today on 01254 277999.

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Believe it or not, a Commercial microwave may be exactly what your kitchen needs…

The Pros and Cons of Microwave Cooking…

There is a well-known stereotype, especially within the restaurant sector that microwaves compromise the quality of food, and although this may be true in some cases, there are many more ways to use a microwave than to cook food. You will also fin microwaves in Michelin starred restaurants!

It doesn’t matter how good your Chef is, commercial microwave ovens can make life in the kitchen so much easier. Have a read through this article to find out how your commercial kitchen could benefit from using a microwave.

Blizzard Microwave

The Different uses of a Commercial Microwave

Microwave cooking is a fantastic way to prepare many food items with little waiting times, this makes it a staple piece of equipment in many establishments.

Heating foods using a commercial microwave saves precious time, it can help a recipe come together a lot faster than waiting for it to get hot on top of a stove.

A commercial microwave is an excellent way to defrost food that your chef may have forgotten to do the day before, a microwave will defrost your food in a fraction of the time that it will take to thaw in a refrigerator.

Utilising space is essential within a commercial kitchen, why not use a microwave to heat up soups to put in your soup kettle or use your microwave to heat up sauces, this saves space on your oven so that you can use it for something else.

A Great Tool to Expand your Menu

Many commercial microwaves do not require a ventilation hood, this makes it a great tool to expand your menu options in cafés, restaurants and pubs or to introduce food to your establishment within a convenience store or quick serve kiosk.

Using a microwave to cook foods such as jacket potatoes, vegetables and soups makes it easier for you to add these items to your menu as the microwave will cook them a lot quicker than an oven.

The Cons of Microwave Cooking

Like all great things, there are a few cons to microwave cooking, but these can easily be prevented if you choose a good quality microwave and follow temperature guidelines.

Microwaves work by heating the water molecules within foods and as a result of this it is easy to overcook foods if you are not careful. In order to prevent this it is important that you adhere to proper timings, you should also use container ventilation to prevent foods from bursting, becoming soggy or developing a chewy texture.

Acme supply a wide range of commercial microwaves form some of the biggest brands in the industry. Take a look at our brochure for more information, alternatively you can call a member of our sales team on 01254 277999 to discuss your needs and requirements and we will be happy to recommend suitable products.

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The Benefits of Contact and Panini Grills

Contact Grills are increasingly becoming a ‘must have’ gadget within every commercial kitchen. The grill achieves results by cooking food between two heated surfaces. This method has many benefits over the conventional griddle as it cooks the food quickly, there is no reason for turning and it seals the food more effectively, locking in the juices, reducing shrinkage and improving the overall flavour of the food.

The speed of the cooking means that a relatively small cooking area can triple the output of a griddle of the same size. Generally, cooking times range from one minute to around three minutes depending on the food type and thickness.

Contact and Panini grills are portable and can be used anywhere from cafés and coffee shops to a mobile catering wagon or outside kitchen as well as in a standard commercial kitchen.

They give you the ability to add a wide range of hot snacks to your menu for a minimum outlay. That’s right, there are some top quality machines out there at very small prices.

Take the Blizzard Single and Double contact grill range for example. These machines are light duty with cast iron plates, counter balanced top plates, manual thermostat and gives you the option of smooth or ribbed plates.

Blizzard Contact Grills

And at the small price of £249 – £349 with a 1 year warranty, they are a great addition to any commercial kitchen.

What do you need to consider before purchasing a Contact or Panini Grill?

Cast iron plates heat up rapidly and smooth plates are ideal therefore for sealing in meat juices and flavour. Ribbed plates on the other hand produce attractive branding marks, and are ideal for Panini’s, giving them more versatility, therefore it is important to consider which one will be most suitable for your business.

On the other hand, a model with a smooth bottom plate and a ribbed top plate such as the Blizzard BRSCG2 might provide the perfect compromise.

Capacity is an important aspect to consider and it is important that you check that the outputs quoted by manufacturers are like for like.

The type of foods that you will be cooking is also important to consider, do you serve a lot of vegetarians or halal food? If so it might be worth purchasing and additional machine.

Finally, it is important that you look for a product that meets all current EU safety regulations, make sure that the model is easy to clean and make sure that you purchase your machine from a reputable dealer and always keep an eye out for models that offer warranty periods.

Here at Acme we offer a wide range of grills to suit all situations, contact our sales team on 01254 277999 and a member of our team will discuss the best unit for you and your business.

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What to Consider when Purchasing an Ice Cream Display…

Ice Cream Displays

Ice cream displays can be a great addition to shops, cafes and restaurants. Selling ice cream can generate excellent profit margins and increase footfalls.

There are three main types of ice cream displays – budget, mid-range and premium, The one that you purchase will depend on various things, the main being your budget, requirements and type of ice cream that you wish to sell.

Here at Acme we have ice cream displays to suit every need and budget with 15% off all accessories and first years free maintenance on all ice cream display cabinets, you can well and truly be ready for summer in no time.

Fit your shop, café or restaurant out with high quality ice cream display freezers from Acme. All of our freezers are designed specifically for the storage and display of ice cream in an aesthetically pleasing manner with value for money and the very best of after sales service in mind.

It is estimated that the ice cream market is worth well over one billion pounds in the UK and profit margins are high, so adding one of our ice cream freezers to your business is a sure fire way to boost your profits.

Choose from a superb range of high quality brands including Blizzard, Infrico and Mondial Elite.

Budget

Budget ice cream displays are essentially chest freezers converted into ice cream displays. Budget displays achieve a temperature of between -14°C and -18°C which is essential to make ice cream easy to scoop.

They have what is called a skin evaporator (this is the part of the refrigeration system that gets cold) – this is where the refrigeration system is built into the wall of the freezer – it is a simple, reliable yet very cost effective way of keeping products frozen.

These cabinets are a great entry level unit into the world of ice cream sales.

Mid-Range

These are specifically designed for the display of ice cream and generally accept 4.5 – 5 litre Napoli tubs. They will have a rear shelf to aid serving and will come with an internal light within in the glass canopy or at the back of the unit to illuminate the ice cream and help to create a mouth-watering display.

Commonly, they have a light yet effective hinged rear lid to help insulate the unit, yet allow quick access for serving customers.

Premium

At the higher end of the market you move into ventilated (sometimes called fan-assisted) ice cream scooping cabinets.

The cost increases for this type of cabinet but so do the benefits. The temperature is more consistent over the whole display and the unit will be able to deal with high volume of ice cream being served. Also, with ventilated cooling enabling more consistent temperature they are ideal for gelato which is more temperature sensitive.

Things to Consider when Buying an Ice Cream Display;

  • How much space do you have for a display?
  • If you do not have much space then you should consider purchasing a budget display unit such as the Mondial Elite BRIO or for very limited space the Mondial Elite ICE2V.
  • How many flavours do you want to showcase?
  • If you are looking to show off a couple of flavours then the Mondial Elite J7 or J9 would do the trick allowing you to display 7-9 different flavours. If you are looking to display a wide range of flavours take a look at the Mondial Elite NICEPRO18, this allows you to show 18 different flavours at once.
  • Are you happy to have extra stock that you have to access from the top. Or do you want under storage accessed from the rear. You need to make sure you have sufficient back up stock especially if the weather is fine and sales increase. If you have a high end ventilated scooping unit, do you need an extra storage freezer (upright or chest freezer) to keep extra stock in?
  • Do you have a suitable power supply for the unit you are buying? The smaller ones just tend to run off a 13amp 3 pin plug. Larger more premium units are sometimes 20amp, 32amp or some of the really big display units are 3 phase supply.

Here at Acme we have ice cream displays to suit every need and budget with 15% off all accessories and one year free maintenance on all Ice Cream Displays you can well and truly be ready for summer in no time and for a limited time only we are offering 10% off our brand new Crystal Ice Cream Range.

For more information about the range of ice cream displays we sell take a look at our website.

 Or for more information give a member of our sales team a call today on 01254 277999, special prices are available on request.

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Planned Preventative Maintenance: 8 Questions all Businesses need to ask…

Acme Maintenance

Taking up a planned preventative maintenance contract can protect your investment and ensure that you are always getting the best performance from your equipment. Here at Acme we would always recommend taking out a plan, reliability is essential and knowing that your systems are protected is fundamental.

In a busy environment it is easy to neglect your equipment until something goes wrong, which can result in a large bill and loss of output.

But when so many companies claim to be offering top of the range maintenance packages, it is difficult for operators to determine whether they are getting the best package for their money.

Simon Mallett, Commercial Director and Catering specialist outlines the top questions that you need to ask yourself and any prospective preventative maintenance provider.

1. Can the provider deliver what I want?

One size does not fit all and a lot of maintenance providers seem to forget this, it is important that you find a ppm provider that tailors their packages around your needs.

Having said this, it is also important to understand what you want and need from a ppm contract. All too often operators go in without knowing what they want and come out with a gold standard ppm contract when in fact all they needed was a basic package.

Take a few minutes to think about what your company really needs, is it compliance and no more, genuine care for your equipment or partnership and dialogue with your service partner?

2. What is the scope of the work included?

Before signing a ppm contract, make sure that you and your provider sit down and go through what needs to be done to what equipment and how often. Establish the difference between a first service, an interim service and a safety check.

Normal working hours usually between 8.30am and 5.00pm are charged at a standard rate, but if access to your company is restricted at these times then costs may be higher, especially at weekends. Therefore it is important to iron out the details with the provider so that this can be included in your plan.

An annual safety check on electrical equipment is common practice, Gas equipment on the other hand should be checked regularly as should combi ovens and refrigeration cabinets. This is essential in order to maintain performance and extend the life of the equipment.

3. In the event of a breakdown, how quickly will my equipment

    be fixed?

This is probably the most important question you can ask, after all, this is probably the sole reason you are considering taking out a ppm plan. So determining right from the start how quickly your equipment will be fixed in fundamental.

You need to make sure that what you are being quoted is actually going to be delivered by the provider, including what guarantees there are that they will visit your business/s as often as the agreement states.

Therefore it is imperative that you employ a reliable, credible and well established company. Do not cut costs by using a cheap provider, this will only cost you more in the long run.

How do I know if a company is reputable? Look at their client list, their accreditations – are they a member of reputable bodies such as CEDA, Refcom, etc? How long has the company been running? And finally, how competent are their customer service team? These are the people you will be dealing with, so it is important to make sure that your supplier has a professional and competent customer service team.

4. Where is the provider located?

It is important to check where your potential provider is located, do they have one head office or other offices scattered across the country? How many engineers do they have and how many of these are close to your business?

Having engineers in your city/area means that lead times on fixing your equipment will be reduced, having a regional base close by will mean that engineers have access to complex equipment that they may not have in their van stock.

5. How much will it cost me?

Before you sign anything make sure you know the true costs of your PPM plan. It is important to work out how much it is going to cost you over the time agreed, be sure to define what is included in the cost so that you don’t get any nasty surprises six months down the line.

It is important that you invest well in your maintenance package, going for the cheapest option may save you money in the long run, but is something goes wrong with your equipment and you need a fast reactive service, the chances are you will not be covered and you will also have to fork out for labour and parts.

6. What extra charges can I expect?

If you take out a comprehensive package, there should not be any extra charges. However if your business does not require this kind of package, it is important that you fully understand what is included in your package and what you may have to pay for. Do not be afraid to ask questions, if there is anything you are unsure about make sure you have all the answers before you sign a contract, read the small print – maintenance packages can often be complex.

Finally, make sure that your provider gives you a schedule of works that they will deliver for each appliance, so both of you are fully aware of the scope of work included.

7. What Accreditations does the provider have?

Accreditations are not there for show, they are there to tell you that a company can do what they say they can. Some accreditations are more important than others, if you are searching for a provider to maintain your gas equipment, make sure that they are Gas Safe accredited and for refrigeration that their engineers are F-Gas Registered.

Accreditations and the standing of a company in the industry is important and should influence your decision in choosing a supplier, you need to feel confident that your chosen provider has the skills and knowledge to effect a safe and efficient service. Safety accreditations such as Altius and Safe Contractor also show the company take Health and Safety seriously and the works will be carried out safely.

8. How will I know that the work has been carried out?

This is particularly relevant to companies with different estates, knowing that your provider has done the work you are paying for is crucial. Good service organisations will provide job sheets which show that comprehensive checks have been made to your appliances and that they are in safe and working condition.

My final comments? Make sure you read the terms and conditions, know what you are signing up for and make sure that your supplier is reputable, you need to know that you can reply on them to get the job done. Spend some time doing a bit of research on the company, talk to their service department about the different options available before you set up a meeting so that you can bring up certain points you are unsure about and negotiate these.

For more information about PPM plans you can take a look at our website: www.acmefg.com or take a look at our maintenance brochure, we offer our customers three set plans and then tailor these plans to suit your specific needs and requirements.

Acme Maintenance Packages

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Acme Donate Blizzard Double Door Gastronorm Freezer to Ashgate Hospicecare

Ashgate Hospicecare

Acme are proud to assist Ashgate Hospicecare an independent registered charity that provides specialist palliative and end of life care and support to adults and their families across North Derbyshire in their mission to support all people over the age of 18, who have life limiting illnesses.

This amazing charity serve over 400,000 people, representing the whole of North Derbyshire which includes some of the most deprived areas in the UK.

All of their services are offered free of charge to anyone with a life limiting illness. To provide this service the charity has to raise over £6 million per annum. Ashgate Hospicecare approached Acme to see if we could donate any refrigeration equipment to their busy kitchen.

Ashgate HospicecareWe liaised with a member of their team in order to establish their refrigeration needs, space was a big issue within the kitchen and they have limited freezing capacities, it was important that the freezer was strong and durable and could withstand all the scrapes and pressures that come with life in a busy kitchen. After showing the hospice a range of different freezers, they decided upon a Blizzard Double Door Stainless Steel Upright Gastronorm Freezer. This heavy duty freezer will be an excellent addition to their kitchen facilities.

“Providing the freezer will help support all of our inpatients and day unit patients as our kitchen provides over 150 meals per day, without this freezer space we would be unable to continue this service” Steven Reah (Philanthropy Executive at Ashgate Hospice)

The elderly population within North Derbyshire is significantly higher than the rest of the country as well as the growth in the older population, there are increasing numbers of people being diagnosed and living with cancer, dementia, respiratory disease, heart and circulatory problems and Ashgate Hospicecare work towards supporting these people.

Ashgate Hospicecare receives over 5000 referrals every year across a wide range of services these include;

  • In Patient Unit
  • Hospice at Home (Providing palliative care to people in their homes)
  • Day Unit
  • Therapy Team
  • Physiotherapy
  • Lymphedema Services
  • Patient and Family Support Team

Chris Allen Group Managing Director at Acme states “We are proud to be supporting such a fantastic charity, we understand the importance of the services that Ashgate Hospicecare supply to the Derbyshire community, the charity focuses on helping people with life limiting illnesses that could affect anyone of us and we at Acme admire the work that they are doing. We hope that the freezer we have donated serves them well and increases their kitchen efficiencies”.

If you would like to find out more about this charity or you would like to make a donation, take a look at their website: http://www.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk or contact Steven Reah: steven.reah@ashgatehospice.nhs.uk

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National Fish and Chip Day!

Finally! We have a day to celebrate Britain’s signature dish – Fish and Chips.

Fish and Chip Week

The National Edible Oil Distributors’ Association is championing the first ever National Fish and Chips day, the nationwide event will take place on the first Friday of June every year and is all about giving fish and chips the recognition that they deserve, as well as helping to secure its position as the UK’s number one takeaway.

Although the event is still in its early stages, it has already gained backing from key industry players and industry bodies such as the Potato Council and the National Federation of Fish Friars.

Fish and chip shops across the country will be sharing the love of our favourite dish with customers and the local community – so nip on down to your local, there might even be a special offer on!

And for all you Fish and Chip shop owners out there, take a look at our Chip Shop brochure with all the latest Fish and Chip Shop equipment from some of the biggest brands in the industry. Call a member of our sales team today on 01254 277999 for our best quotes!